Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Puddings from the Deep South.

It is probably fair to say that Christmas plum pudding of the English style has not won over the hearts and minds of many of those not born to it. I have been surprised at the relative lack of adaptation of the hearty boiled pudding to the American Christmas celebrations – but that is not to say there has been no regional development of specialized puddings for the season.  The widely popular The American woman's cook book (1939) from the Delineator Home Institute gives only one state the honour of having a Christmas pudding included in its pages, and it is indeed quite different:

Georgia Christmas Pudding
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
½ cup chopped raisins
½ cup sugar
6 egg whites
½ cup sherry wine
¼ cup rum
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Soak the nuts and raisins in the wines and lemon juice for at least six hours — overnight if possible. Beat the egg whites stiff, add the sugar and beat till ropy. Fold in the wine-soaked fruits and nuts. Pour into a buttered baking dish. Set in a pan of hot water. Bake at 350° F. for one hour. Serve with the following sauce.
Make a custard of 6 egg yolks, ¼ cup sugar and 1½ cups of scalded milk. When smoothly thickened, flavor with sherry and serve on the Christmas Pudding. This is a famous old Georgia recipe.

And another variation named for the South which included the same concept of marinated fruit being folded into a meringue mixture comes appeared in the Lowell Sun (Massachusetts) of December 18, 1941.

Southern Christmas Pudding.
One-half cup raisins, grated rind of 1 orange, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ¼ cup rum or non-alcoholic rum flavoring, ¼ up sherry or white grape juice, 4 egg whites, ½ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 small sponge cake.
Put raisins, orange rind, lemon juice, rum flavoring, and wine or grape juice in a bowl. Cover and let stand overnight. Salt and beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar by tablespoonfuls, beating until sugar is dissolved. Fold in fruit mixture. Slice sponge cake and cover bottom of pudding dish. Pile meringue on top of cake. Bake in moderate oven, 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Service [sic] with custard sauce made from yolks of eggs and flavored with sherry or lemon juice.

And a final “Southern” pudding – a boiled one this time – which also uses cake crumbs or sponge cake, but in quite a different way,  from Famous old receipts used a hundred years and more in the kitchens of the North and the South, contributed by descendants, compiled by Jacqueline Harrison Smith and published in 1908.

Perfection Plum Pudding.
Contributed by Mrs. G. H. Ellerbe, New Orleans, a Famous Southern Housekeeper.

Two lbs. of cup cake crumbs or sponge cake, 2 lbs. of raisins, 1 lb. of currants, 1 lb.of citron, 1 cup of shelled pecans, 1cup of blanched almonds, 1 tablespoonful level of allspice, the same of ginger, 2 teaspoons of cloves, 2 teaspoons of nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 cup of sugar, 2 cups of sifted flour, 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of butter, ½ cup of brandy. Rub butter and sugar together, add eggs one at a time, then flour and milk, then cake crumbs toasted and ground. Soak spices in brandy and add to mixture. Cut almonds and pecans in rather large pieces and citron in thin slices, seed raisins, wash currants, and add to batter. Put in pudding mould and boil steadily for 5 hours. Serve with liquid sauce, seasoned with brandy and whipped cream. When pudding is placed on table pour brandy over it and light. This greatly improves flavor and makes an ideal Christmas dish. This receipt has been used many years and is infallible. About ¼ the quantity will make a pudding to fill a 1 lb. yeast powder can which makes a good mould.

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